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By BRITTANY TRAN
Four pre-optometry students took the stage, channeling the talent of pop singer Miley Cyrus. They sang their parody of Cyrus’ song, which they titled “Optometry in the USA.” With this activity, they ended their first experience at the pre-optometry convention.
For the first time, University Pre-Optometry Professionals Society members attended the Annual Texas Optometric Association POPS convention Feb. 23 in Austin.
Attendees listened to speakers from the University of Houston College for Optometry, University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry, and NOVA Southeastern University College of Optometry. They also saw exhibits presented at the convention and interacted with pre-optometry students from seven other Texas universities.
Students also had the opportunity to learn about the admission process and how to become more competitive applicants. Dr. Jackie Horn, chair of the biology department and POPS advisor, said students must have certain credentials to get into optometry school and the minimum credentials will not be good enough, so the workshops on admissions were beneficial to the students.
“Someone from UH and Incarnate Word spoke to students about what they look for in admissions,” Horn said. “For our students, that is wonderful because that’s what they really want to know – how to get into optometry school.”
In addition to the admissions workshops, POPS members saw pictures of the retina and eye diseases. People usually think of optometrists in a private practice setting, but students learned that there are actually different areas within the field of optometry.
Junior Kim Chau said she hopes to one day work in a hospital with an ophthalmologist but is aware of the various areas of work within the field.
“You can go into sports medicine, be a counselor, you can teach, or work in a hospital,” Chau said. “It’s not just about private practice.”
Students also toured the convention exhibit hall where vendors showcased the latest technology in eye-care. For example, instead of the usual eye-puff machine where a puff of air is blown into a patient’s eye to measure its pressure, Chau observed a device utilizing lasers to take pressure readings.
“They numb the eye using eye-drops and then use a radar looking gun with a blue laser to take the reading,” Chau said. “This is a better alternative to the eye-puff machine which everyone hates, and it’s more accurate.”
Meeting other pre-optometry students from different universities further encouraged the students to pursue the career. Senior Kiran Sabharwal said she was surprised by the large number of pre-optometry students from other schools who attended the conference.
“It made me realize that optometry plays a big part in Texas,” Sabharwal said.
Closing activities consisted of competing in a Quiz Bowl, as well as creating optometry-related lyrics to well-known songs.
“We did well for our first time,” Chau said. “We actually had numbers on our scoreboard and beat one other team.”